How to Identify & Express Needs to Revive Communication in Your Relationship
Your brain actually pursues romantic love with long-term intentions. The chemicals released through romantic feelings place you in a calm state, give you a sense of security, and even reduce anxiety and stress. Being in love is good for your physical and mental well-being, self-esteem, and relationship satisfaction.
Over time, though, you may lose sight of that fact. Then a holiday such as Valentine’s Day reminds you that your romance is supposed to be alive.
Yet, expressions of romantic feelings shouldn’t be saved for a specific day of the year. They should last all year long!
How can you achieve this?
Well, we know that effective communication in relationships is essential for satisfaction and long-term connection, but you may feel like something is missing in your relationship.
Perhaps you’re not sure how to express this concern to your significant other? Maybe you are afraid to even broach the subject. Communication in relationships is key, but before you can communicate, you need to figure out how you got to this point and move forward, knowing exactly what you need.
Identifying Unmet Needs, Why We Lose Our Connection
When you first started dating, all you needed to be happy was each other. Relationships tend to seem so simple when you first start going out. But as time goes on, cracks develop, and you find yourself frustrated.
Think about what it is that is upsetting you. Tune in deep to find your primary emotions. Are you feeling alone and needing more connection? Are you feeling inadequate and needing more appreciation?
Get underneath your anxiety and frustration to identify what you are really feeling and what you really need. Effective communication in relationships is about sharing the vulnerable parts of yourself vs. the reactivity. You might be aware of what you are feeling but unsure of what it is that you need.
Some Unmet Needs could be:
- You may not feel valued. Maybe your significant other is starting to take you for granted, and you just want to feel like you are important and acknowledged by them.
- Perhaps you’d like some room to express a little more individuality. Couples frequently refer to themselves as “we.” This is romantic and sometimes accurate. This merging of identities can also represent too many boundaries being crossed.
- You may have security concerns, whether it be financial, physical, or emotional.
- Your partner may not be giving you the emotional support that you desire. You try to open up about concerns, and your partner doesn’t seem to be listening or has his/her face in an electronic device. These days, we can sit together on the couch but feel like we’re on different planets.
- In a similar vein, your partner may not be encouraging you when you’re down, and you could really use the encouragement.
- Sex could be lacking passion. The frenzied lust of early attraction is a gift that can become a trap. Our intimate lives evolve as we do. Without steady communication, this reality may appear as an obstacle. The needs that aren’t being met don’t necessarily have to be of the emotional type.
- They may not give you the trust that you feel that you deserve.
You might be experiencing a combination of these, or even something not mentioned here. Relationships are complicated and require some work to be successful. Use your underlying emotions to identify what it is that you are feeling.
Your emotion gives you information about what you need. For example, if you feel alone, perhaps you require more quality time with your partner or encouraging words of affirmation. What you need could vary depending on what love languages you speak.
What are the “Love Languages”?
These are the five ways that love is communicated in relationships, specifically romantic ones. The five love languages are the patterns people commonly use to give and receive love.
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch
Have you heard of them? Everyone feels and expresses love, but what one person considers a loving act may be completely off-putting to the next. Understanding your love languages as opposed to your partners can be incredibly helpful for navigating a long-term relationship.
Your primary love language will be the one you consistently identify as a loving act, regardless of whether it is touch or service, or gifts. That action will speak the loudest to you. The significance of all the others depends on how much value you place on them.
Communication in Relationships – Expressing Your Needs to Your Partner
So you’ve recognized your unmet needs, but how do you express this to your partner without making them feel like the bad guy? After all, it’s very likely that they don’t even realize what they are doing (or not doing).
Try not to vent or accuse when you bring the subject up. While this may feel therapeutic at the time, you’ll actually be causing more problems, both now and later. No one likes to be accused, and your partner will probably get defensive, causing the conversation to end with little hope of resolution.
Before you start discussing your partner’s issue, clearly think about your unmet needs and some possible solutions. Defining your exact thoughts and feelings here is important. Are you angry, confused, or depressed? Is the issue minor and started recently, or is it a major issue that has been going on for years? Was there an event that marks the start of these feelings, such as getting married or having a baby?
How to communicate better in a relationship
Start with a soft start-up, complaining without blaming. Describe what is happening without evaluating or judging. Add phrases such as “please” and “I appreciate when you.”
Be sure not to store things up! Bring things up – a laundry list of items can feel like an attack. Focus on connecting through your vulnerable emotions vs. your angry emotions – “I feel sad when… “. Slow down, breathe and regulate your emotions when you approach the conversation.
Refrain from asking “why” questions.
Focus on making a clear statement about what you need.
Try to use “I” statements instead of “you” accusations, even if the issue is caused by your significant other. For example, instead of “You live like an animal who can’t clean up after himself!” try “I feel frustrated when I find things left all over the floor.”
When suggesting possible solutions, ask for a specific change in behavior instead of going after your partner’s core traits. Rather than a vague “Please be neater,” you could say, “It would mean a lot to me if you would put the dirty clothes in the hamper instead of on the floor.”
Don’t keep unmet needs to yourself.
A Note on Communication in Relationships
Most of the time, people are willing to help make their loved one’s life easier if approached in the right way. Effective communication in relationships is about connecting and sharing without attacking. Communication and listening are integral elements to building a healthy relationship, so here are a few things to keep in mind as you embark on this journey.
- Be Patient – Don’t put a deadline on reconciliation. Healthy relationships never stop changing. The process of change can be confusing — especially without a healthy dose of patience. Your marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourselves.
- Communicate Clearly, Honestly, and Often – This can sound obvious. To increase connection, just connect more. But communication is an art form, and it requires your full attention. Leave nothing to chance. Set aside regular time to communicate. Create a safe space in which you can both speak frankly.
- Practice Gratitude – Even during times of strife, you have plenty to be thankful for. Appreciate each other regardless of the current situation. Gratitude is an excellent guide for rebuilding a connection.
- Reconnect to the Origins of Your Connection – More than nostalgia, this is more like a rekindling. What you experienced in the early days of your relationship helped shape your connection. Returning to your roots, so to speak, will reignite many of the emotions you felt at the time. Remind yourselves of the passion that first brought you together.
9 Ways to Keep Romantic Feelings Alive
Whether you have been together for fourteen months or fourteen years, your relationship takes work. Beyond communication, here are a few therapist/counselor-approved tips on how to reroute unmet needs and fuel your romance for years to come.
1. Have eyes only for your partner
In other words, keep your partner on the pedestal you put them on when you fell in love. Continue seeing them as the most attractive, funny, intelligent, and caring person in the room. It’s not at all harmful to stay a little blind to their imperfections, as they do for you.
2. Show your partner appreciation
Look for opportunities to use their love languages. Perhaps this means you give positive affirmation, appreciation, and admiration to each other in words or deeds. Ask yourself what you can do daily to praise and validate your partner. Above all, be loving, even at times you don’t feel like it.
3. Surprise your partner
Show some creativity and be spontaneous. Surprise them with breakfast in bed, a relaxing bath, a loving note in an unexpected place, or a unique or personal treat. If “gifts” is one of their top love languages, this will really brighten their day. Even if it’s not, take this opportunity to give back to your partner in a way you know they will appreciate.
4. Make your relationship a daily priority
No matter how busy you are, find time for each other. Carving out at least 10-15 minutes a day just for the two of you without distractions will keep your romance from withering. Power down your electronics, make eye contact and just enjoy talking. The love languages are good to use for this one.
5. Do new things together regularly
Enjoying new and exciting activities together can be arousing because it keeps your bond and attraction to each other fresh and strong. Take turns planning a weekly date, try out new foods, watch the stars or the full moon together, spend a lazy weekend with each other, or take classes together (including couples counseling classes to help you create a healthy partnership).
6. Allow your passion for life to carry over into your relationship
When you let your enthusiasm and excitement for all that life has to offer spill over into your love life, it’s a boost for your romance. So, make sure you keep your passions going to benefit from the emotional energy they create.
7. Cultivate intimacy
Touch, kiss, hold hands, communicate about deeply personal matters, such as your passions, hopes, and dreams. Intimacy is about connecting, being open and vulnerable, hearing, listening, and truly understanding your partner’s desires and needs.
8. Preserve a measure of independence
By maintaining a measure of independence, you can continue seeing each other from an ever-fresh perspective. Giving your partner space to do what they’re good at and observing them radiating confidence keeps the spark going and the mystery alive.
9. Enjoy your journey together
Don’t just see your relationship as a means for survival and companionship. See it as a journey together toward satisfaction and personal well-being. One that you could never make quite the same way alone.
Clearly, investing in the romantic aspect of your relationship can be done in many ways. As you continue giving your time and energy to each other, it becomes even easier to achieve long-lasting romantic feelings.
Increase Connection and Revive Communication by Asking For Help — Together
On the one hand, there are many expectations we have about marriage. On the other hand, there’s reality. In the beginning, it might seem that the last thing you need as a couple is professional help. Falling in love can have a magical vibe, and it can feel like smooth sailing but staying connected requires actual work.
The work that must be done is not something we learn in school. We usually don’t learn it from family or friends either. So, where do we turn when we need to increase connection and fix communication in our relationships?
The increasingly popular and proven answer is “couples counseling.” Setting aside together time, once a week, is the first sign that you both want to grow. Your therapist will serve as a guide, a mediator, and a strategist.
Grievances and concerns are aired. Ideas are shared. A reconnection is built. No one said you have to figure it all out on your own. So please ask for help. We’re here for you.
Consider Couples Counseling
Suppose you find yourself in the same perpetual arguments, struggles or feelings. Learn more about cultivating a happy and healthy relationship with couples counseling. Contact one of our relationship counselors in Houston to find out more or read more about our marriage counseling services help with your relationship.
To get started now, give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.
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